More than 800 families in Kikambala, Kilifi County, have been left homeless after their houses were demolished yesterday morning.
Local leaders led by Governor Amason Kingi condemned the eviction that affected 414 households at Mwendo wa Panya village, saying it violated an order suspending the exercise issued by the Malindi High Court yesterday morning.
According to the order seen by the Saturday Standard the eviction was suspended yesterday for 14 days to allow the parties to address the court within 15 days.
Oppression of weak
Mr Kingi said he will sue the local police and court bailifs who disregarded the suspension order characterising the eviction as oppression of the weak.
“The law should apply equally for the poor and rich. There was a lawful order suspending the eviction. Whoever supervised this eviction will be held to account beginning on Monday,” Kingi told the displaced after donating blankets, water tanks, mattresses and tents.
The governor said yesterday’s eviction issued from a long history of oppression of the landless at the Coast often through selective application of the law.
“We are a peaceful people but that does not mean we are weak or cowardly. We are being pushed to the wall,” Kingi said.
The evicted families have been locked in an ownership court battle that began in 2006, pitting Charles Wanguhu, Mark Mwaura and John Waweru who claim the vast property against the squatters that have lived on it for decades without ownership papers.
The three men won a court battle at the High Court in Malindi in June 2016 and were issued with orders to remove the residents. The residents appealed the verdict and the matter is pending at the Court of Appeal and is scheduled for judgement on December 6 this year.
Tension began rising on the seaside village on Thursday evening when armed police ringed it, threatening to storm and yesterday morning additional forces accompanied by hired men on bulldozers razed down the village, wrecking property.
Residents protested against the demolition and lit bonfires and blocked all roads leading to the village.
They hurled stones at police officers who shot in the air to disperse them before the exercise commenced.
Leonard Kenga who represented the families told journalists the demolition started at 7am and despite the families having appealed the High Court ruling that recognised John Waweru as the genuine owner of the 27-acre piece of land.
“We lost the case and we appealed against the ruling. We were in court on September 16 but we were shocked when we received visitors on Thursday who went around the land (plot number 157/iii/MN) claiming they were identifying beacons. Today we saw a bulldozer with a contingent of police officers and our houses were brought down,” Mr Kenga said.
Kenga disclosed that three strangers came in the company of security officers and area leaders two months ago and informed them that they had the title deed and wanted them to vacate.
He questioned how Waweru was issued with a title deed of a piece of land they have been living on all their life. “We are shocked that the government can issue a title teed on a piece of land that has been inhabited by locals for decades. Where is justice? he posed.